Sunny Reviews (The Muppets 2015 Episode 1) – Let’s Be Honest With Each Other

Hello everyone, Sunny here and today I’m going to be starting another new set of articles. Since this month is the 2nd anniversary of ABC’s The Muppets, I thought about looking back at the series and giving my overall review of each episode.

Starting with the first episode “Pigs Girls Don’t Cry” or as I’m calling it here “Let’s Be Honest with Each Other”. A quote from the episode and how I’m going to voice my opinion of the episode. Nothing but honesty here.

So starting with the opening, Kermit explains how it’s difficult working with his ex (aka Miss Piggy) on her late-night talk show.

For those of you who aren’t already aware, or didn’t watch the show, or aren’t Muppet Fans in general, this was around the same time Kermit and Piggy were officially broken up. The breakup was going to play into the show and how do they execute this?

Well, let’s find out..

As Piggy is being introduced, Kermit tells Scooter that “it’s too late for me save yourself”, which implies that all the Muppets are scared of Miss Piggy. (I mean that’s not anything new, and this is going to be brought up in the next episode) But it gets even worse when Piggy finds out Elizabeth Banks is going to be on the show. Kermit asked her why she’s against it, and all she can say is “I hate her stupid face.”, like a little kid.

Now hear me out, but Miss Piggy is my favorite character in The Muppets. She’s been a role model to me for years, and she was always the one Muppet I related to. I loved everything about her and loved her relationship with Kermit (romantic and platonic). I’m hoping to write an article about their relationship sometime in October. But my point is, Miss Piggy may be my favorite..but her writing is atrocious. They just don’t know how to write her without her coming off as annoying or just plain mean-spirited. I have a lot of comments coming up soon when I discuss the recent Hollywood Bowl performance, but most of the things I have a problem with are prominent in the first half of the 2015 show.

But then we’re introduced to..Denise. Oh, poor Denise. 

Okay here’s the thing, I love Denise as a character. But I still have this feeling now as I did when Episode 1 first premiered..she could of been just a friend to Kermit. I didn’t like the fact that Kermit just dedicated to move on and “cross-promote” with Denise so fast. Look how long it took him to accept his relationship with Miss Piggy. I never bought the idea that he was so eager to try a new relationship, but whatever. Again, nothing against Denise because she’s an interesting character, but she has nothing to add in this episode except show Kermit a reason why Piggy doesn’t like Elizabeth Banks.

They assume because of an old screen test for the Hunger Games, that Piggy has had a grudge towards Elizabeth ever since. Kermit doesn’t care about the screen test, and just decides to have her on the show. A lot of people complained about current Kermit’s lack of being a strong leader, but here it just proves he still has that capability.

And the other thing I wanna address is Kermit’s character…

Now, when Kermit talks about Miss Piggy in the episode, he starts out by saying “she’s quirky and kind of sexy, but take dating out of that picture and she’s just a lunatic.” And I wanna say that this has nothing to do with Steve Whitmire’s performance of Kermit, because like I addressed in Muppet Chat Mondays #1, it’s not the performance that’s the problem..it’s the writing. The show and writing were handled by people who worked on the Big Bang Theory. Just wanna remind everybody about that.

So, yes I’m not happy about the way Kermit is portrayed in this episode, but I’m not blaming Steve, I’m blaming the writers who thought it was a great idea to have Kermit call Piggy a “lunatic”. Sorry guys, you get -20 points for the writing.

Anyway back to the episode, there’s also this sub-plot where Fozzie is meeting his girlfriend Becky’s parents and wants to make a good impression on them. So, he tells them that he can give them a backstage tour of Up Late with Miss Piggy and to meet her as well. It’s really kind of adorable seeing Fozzie trying to do all this, but having him dating a human isn’t that interesting to me. It’s just another trope that we’ve seen before. And this is coming from someone who loves a frog and a pig and a weirdo and a chicken together.

After that, Elizabeth Banks comes onto the set and wanting to hang out with Piggy. So, Kermit gets Scooter to distract her by driving her around the Up Late Studio. That doesn’t work out and eventually Piggy finds out she’s at the set and gets upset with Kermit. Kermit chases her down, telling her she shouldn’t be so mad about the screen test. But, the screen test wasn’t the problem..it was Pitch Perfect 2.

Then, we cut to one of the best scenes in the episode..the Breakup Scene. We see the couple arguing over Piggy giving more time to her fans than her actual boyfriend. Kermit is started to get annoyed by Piggy’s attitude and decides to break up with her. Piggy says, “Over this?” and Kermit replies, “No…over everything.”

Just the way that Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson deliver the lines brings such a powerful tone to the scene. Especially after Kermit walks away from Piggy, the camera just pauses on her, looking up at the Elizabeth Banks poster. Followed by her heavy breathing is just fantastic. You really feel the emotion and believe that Piggy’s heart been broken by the one person (cough I mean frog) that she’s loved her whole life. This scene is one of the many reasons you should watch this episode.

After the flashback, Kermit says that he was an insensitive toad towards Piggy’s feelings and goes to apologize to her. The two come to an agreement when Kermit says, “For now on let’s just be honest with each other, okay?” I’m probably going to be referencing that quote a lot during these reviews. It’s a nice scene between them, but Piggy kind of breaks the mood by calling out Kermit’s new girlfriend and he’s getting a little tummy.

But they finally do the talk show and everything’s going great with Elizabeth Banks. Even Imagine Dragons does a performance at the end..which I kind of forgot about lol. Anyway, What do I think of this episode? It’s pretty good actually.

Despite major flaws in the character writing, it’s really not a bad first episode. It has a good setup and makes you wonder if Piggy was just mad at Elizabeth Banks for the screen test, but they bring in a nice twist to it. The first time I watched the episode, the breakup scene surprised me and I wasn’t expecting the poster to be the reminder of the breakup. They really tied the whole plot of the episode together and it really worked.

So, I’m giving “Pig Girls Don’t Cry” a 7/10 rating, and I’ll be back with the next review “Hostile Makeover”!

 

Muppet Chat Mondays #1: Kerfuffle

For one of my first blog posts, I’m going to start a new segment called Muppet Chat Mondays. Today, I’m joined by my good friend Marni Hill of justforthehalibut discussing Steve Whitmire and the Kerfuffle. 

Marni: So, Disney…..Not many positive vibes coming from us at the moment, right?

Sunny: And do you know why that’s the case? Well…it’s because of The Muppets.

Marni: Gee, I wonder why that would be? They haven’t exactly impressed me with certain decisions…What about you?

Sunny: As Muppet Fans, we’ve been talking about the treatment of the Muppets for years. Even back in the mid 2000’s when Disney actually bought them. What did you do with them? Oh, just little TV Specials and Commercials. And look where we are now..back where we started.

Marni: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, yeah, some of their ideas have been great, but even then, the ideas came from outsiders who had to fight tooth and nail just to get things done. It took Jason Segel a number of tries to get TM2011 going. We’ll get to that during another chat in the future, but I think for the sake of discussion, we should probably address the elephant in the room.

Sunny: And by elephant, we mean frog. And by frog, we mean Steve Whitmire. If you weren’t already aware of it, during October 2016, Muppet Performer Steve Whitmire was contacted by Disney that they no longer needed his services anymore. Steve was devastated about this, but he remained quiet for 9 months hoping Disney would change their minds. However, we finally found out on July 10th that he was fired. Most of us assumed (because of the Thanksgiving Day Parade), that Steve was either sick or couldn’t make it to New York. Who would of know it was because he was fired? However, because of the response, Steve finally made a blog, and told us his side of the story. Disney didn’t want to say anything on the issue, but to keep quiet about it.

Marni: Yeah and what really bugs me about this whole thing is that there were so many different directions the Studio could have gone with their response to Steve’s initial blog post. Steve’s contention was that he wanted the fans to know that he was let go, he didn’t walk away from the characters.He also didn’t mention what those ‘stated issues’ were. Disney could have flown with that, pinned their dismissal of him as being due to “creative differences” and left it there.

Sunny: But yet they didn’t because they didn’t respect his love towards these characters. He knew about the integrity of Kermit and company, and wanted to keep that going for years. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t Jim Henson, because HELLO, NO ONE IS JIM HENSON! No one can be him. And honestly, I don’t care if the Hensons love Matt Vogel’s performance and praise him as the next Jim Henson, (which by the way, I absolutely adored his performance in the Hollywood Bowl) but that doesn’t matter to me. Even Steve wasn’t Jim either. But who cares about that? All that matters is that whoever is performing Kermit keeps that integrity alive and well. He needs to have those memories of Jim Henson and The Muppet Show, and Steve had that. Sadly, Matt doesn’t have the memories that Steve had..so all of Kermit’s memories will basically be wiped out of existence.

Marni: That’s true. That’s Steve’s side of it at least and the one I’m inclined to believe. Another point of contention I have with the Muppets Studio was their decision to drag the Hensons into the conversation as a means of validating Steve’s dismissal in the eyes of the fans. Rather manipulative, don’t you think? I suppose it’s meant to show that Disney did some long, hard thinking about this. Even if what Brian, Lisa and Cheryl  said is genuinely what they feel, it just wasn’t necessary. I get it, they want to protect their father’s legacy, but so does Steve. You have two opposing sides fighting the same battle here.

Sunny: Exactly. And here’s the thing..I seriously don’t like the fact that the Hensons had to speak out about Steve. They literally didn’t have to do that. Especially Cheryl’s comment…and we all know how she feels about Steve. Yet, after thinking about the Hensons’ feelings on Steve..I just don’t care at this point. I don’t care what they think because HELLO..they don’t WORK with the Muppets anymore. You sold them off to Disney and you have NO say in this. Listen, I understand Steve’s respect towards the Hensons because they’re Jim’s Family, but as for me..their opinion doesn’t matter to me. They weren’t working with Steve (from what we know), so Disney didn’t even have to go to them. All they had to do was keep their mouths shut. If I were them and the press were hounding me for opinions, I would shut the door on them.

Marni: Same here. To me, it’s just felt like adding unnecessary fodder to an already raging fire. It also didn’t help that the Muppet fansites decided that the news needed to make it to the mainstream media. I agree that a major recast is earth-shattering news, but if they hadn’t have tweeted at so many places, the news would have been mentioned as an afterthought at most, but then completely ignored. The media doesn’t care about the Muppet Performers unless there’s some scandals to be had. This one was turning into a doozy at the time.

And I know that’s not a popular opinion, but remember what happened once the major news outlets started talking about it? Casual fans started raging along with the die-hards, which meant that Disney felt the need to release the ‘unacceptable business conduct’ statement, which dragged the Hensons into it and left Steve trying to defend himself….which just escalated things even further. Before we knew it, we had a three way cluster-f$#@ on our hands.

But going back to what Cheryl said, I honestly don’t see how she can blame Steve for Kermit being ‘depressed’. That’s a little out of touch, right?

Sunny: Oh absolutely. What I loved about Steve’s performance of Kermit was that he was able to continue the legacy of Jim Henson, but also bringing some new life to the character. One of the main reasons I got into The Muppets was because of Steve. I remember I wasn’t aware of The Muppets at all until the 2011 movie came along. When I saw Kermit’s appearance in the movie, I was starstruck because watching Kermit’s performance and seeing the way Steve made him so emotional, I started connecting to the character.

I understood what Kermit was going through in the movie, and I knew that he was upset about The Muppets splitting up. He was depressed for a reason, and I wish that the Muppet Fandom wouldn’t give Kermit this reputation of being a “depressed” victim. Honestly, I feel like it’s an insult to Steve’s performance. He was given a script, and he went with it and I felt like he did an amazing job at it.

Marni: Oh, I agree! You can’t blame him for that. If the writing is depressing, you’re going to end up with a depressing performance. Simple as that….

Sunny: Whether it was Kermit giving a speech during the 2011 movie, realizing his friends needed him in Muppets Most Wanted, or confessing his love to Miss Piggy during the finale of the 2015 show, there was always something to enjoy about Steve’s performance as Kermit.

What I also loved about Steve’s performance was the facial expressions he gave to Kermit. The reason that I connected to Kermit was seeing the expressions he gave. Like for example, during Single All the Way (Episode 10 of The 2015 Show), I would always watch Kermit and notice little details, like how his head would go down, or he would watch and respond to Piggy, or this little smile/swoon face he’d give to show that he was in love with her. Those kind of things are so subtle, but Steve knew how to bring them. Not saying the other performers didn’t have that talent, but it seemed like whenever a Steve was interacting with another character, he had that chemistry with them as Kermit.

Marni: I used to imagine Steve sitting down in front of a mirror for hours on end, just playing around with Kermit and experimenting with those expressions. It amounted to some pretty funny moments during interviews…..

…And see, it’s these types of things I’m going to miss the most from Steve. His dedication to his craft and all it entails, character integrity and all that, amounted to some pretty damn powerful performances and was what convinced me that he deserves his place as my all-time favourite Performer. I can harp on about and try to discover the truth about why he was fired until I turn blue, but at the end of the day, I don’t care anymore.

At this point, I’m just looking forward to seeing what he does next. If we’re lucky, it’ll be more puppetry. It would make me so happy to see some type of film starring him and one of his original characters….Maybe, Otis?

Sunny: Yeah, that would be awesome! Maybe he could start his own Youtube channel, or a podcast! I’d love to hear all the amazing stories he had about Jim, and what it was like to work with him. Also, to give younger puppeteers some advice about puppetry. Even doing some workshops in the future as well? Anything to show the world that Steve still has the power to create something amazing and show Disney/Jim Henson Company that they made a terrible mistake.

Marni: I have no idea what drove them to that point, and again, I’m not going to harp on about it, but I agree. The man only turned 58 this week, still got plenty of time to make a name for himself in puppetry outside of the Muppets. He has the right creative mindset to do it, so it’ll be interesting to see how Steve uses it as he moves forward. In the meantime, we also have to wait it out and see how all of the Muppet recasts will go. The Hollywood Bowl stuff looked promising, but it wasn’t nearly enough to satisfy me…..especially since I didn’t go.

Sunny: Same here, but from watching the clips, I thought everyone did an amazing job. I even have to admit Matt Vogel did an excellent with Kermit, especially singing Happy Feet and Rainbow Connection. If they’re going to go forward with Matt’s performance of Kermit, I’m kind of okay with it.

However, I felt like there was one element that ruined the Hollywood Bowl for me..the writing. Even if everyone is praising Matt’s performance of Kermit, he’s still the victim of horrible writing and really hope in the future they’ll fix that.

Marni: Yeah, Matt’ll be fine and so will the others. The more Matt loosens up with the character, so will Kermit. I’ll just always prefer Steve’s performance for the reasons we’ve both already mentioned. I look forward to seeing what Matt can do, but there will always be that feeling of yearning nostalgia anytime I watch something made between 1990 and 2016.I don’t see a problem with feeling that way.

Sunny: Me either. I will always miss Steve’s performance, but I’m really hopeful about the future, especially with the Hollywood Bowl. If they continue to do live shows or even a live tour, that would be amazing. And if not, I don’t know what to expect from the characters. Like I said before, we’re into this dry spot again. What else do the Muppets have planned? 100 ‘Thought of the Weeks’? That’s not enough to keep these characters relevant. How about some new shorts or something? ANYTHING to keep these characters around for a while.

Marni: Eh, those ‘Thought of the Week’ clips are just filler. Honestly couldn’t care less about them.. I have no idea what Disney has planned for the Muppets next, but I hope it doesn’t consist of what Steve has been trying to warn us about. I’ve gotten the message loud and clear, but only time will tell if Disney has followed suit.

Sunny: Couldn’t care less? But they star the greatest character of all time..Uncle Deadly! So, it makes it 85% better.

Marni: Well, no shit! Still doesn’t mean I’m going to do a happy dance every Monday when they are released.

Sunny: Fair enough. But like you said before, I am afraid of what Disney is going to do with The Muppets and that Steve is right about all this. I wanna believe because the performers still there have taken on so many characters, that they can still keep the integrity just like Steve wanted, but again who knows?

Marni: So….we trust the Performers, but not so much Disney…right?

Sunny: Pretty much yup.

Marni: Cool. That seems a good place to wrap this up for now.

Sunny: Yes it does! We’ll definitely get into talking more about Disney in the future.

Marni: Can’t wait, good madam, can’t wait…….

Think Of Funny Thoughts…

“..Or a sunny word. That will make me happy, little orange birddd..”

Yes, I just used a lyric from the Little Orange Bird song.

and that’s what my blog is a reference of…

As you can tell, I’m a huge fan of the Disney Parks haha..so time for that true introduction.

Hello everyone, my name is Valerie but I go by Sunny on the interwebs. I’m currently going to Edinboro University into my sophomore year and studying the Computer Animation Track. All my life I’ve been in love with any kind of animation..Traditional, 3D, Stop-Motion, Puppets, you name it. So, I really hope to get into the industry someday and work as a storyboard artist or animator.

So, here’s just a little story about myself. You’re probably wondering why did I choose this name Sunny instead of just calling myself Valerie? Well, basically because when I was growing up, my parents were very overprotective of me and didn’t want me giving out my real name to the world. Yet..look at me now telling you my real name haha.

But when I first got into one of my first fandoms: My Little Pony, it seemed like everyone had a special name for themselves, and I didn’t..so I wanted to create one. And you’re probably thinking I got my name from that Orange Bird song, right? Actually no..I got from this green guy called Sonny Eclipse… 

I saw this guy performing at Walt Disney World around 2010, and I loved his name so much, that it inspired me to create the username xSunnyEclipse on Youtube. Suddenly, everyone started calling me Sunny, and I just stuck with it ever since. People have told me that my sunny personality really fits my name…I guess it was a good name for me after all haha!

Throughout the years, I’ve gone through so many fandoms..The 7D, MLP, Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Bunsen is a Beast, Milo Murphy’s Law, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, Penn Zero, Phineas and Ferb, Welcome to the Wayne..etc. But my true fandoms that have stuck with me forever have been The Disney Parks and The Muppets.

I’ve been a huge of The Muppets since 2010/2011-ish, and I wanna get into how I got into them in another post, but these characters are what I feel represents positivity and hope for our world. They keep that message going and showed me that anything’s possible. I know that’s kind of silly to say for a bunch of frogs, pigs, bears, and chickens..but I always felt like that was their mission. To make millions of people of happy..and I’m proud of be one of those people. And like I said, I’ll get into more of them later.

And with the Disney Parks, I’ve been a huge fan of the history of the parks since 2010. I’ll get into more of my thoughts and how I got interested in the history later as well. I have lots to say on this blog and I can’t wait to share it to you all!

 

– Sunny